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The Daleks' Master Plan
(aka The Daleks' Masterplan)
On Kembel, the Doctor finds a message left by Marc Cory, detailing the Daleks' plan to use a time destructor to take over the universe. The Doctor steals the taranium core needed to fuel the destructor, and is then pursued across time and space by the Daleks. The Doctor's ally, Space Security Service agent Bret Vyon, is killed by his own sister, Sara Kingdom, at the orders of Mavic Chen, the traitorous Guardian of the Solar System. It is up to the Doctor to convince Sara of the truth of her misguided allegiance, and avoid an apocalyptic triple threat in the form of Chen, the Daleks, and the time destructor.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas 1964, The Dalek Invasion Of Earth had been a ratings goldmine for Doctor Who. By late February 1965, producer Verity Lambert and Dalek creator Terry Nation had already discussed the possibility of Nation writing another six-part Dalek story, to air in November and December 1965 and hopefully replicate the earlier adventure's success. When the Doctor Who production office was allocated an extra episode at the end of the second recording block, it was agreed that this would be used as a one-off “trailer” for Nation's new story. This special episode, featuring none of the regular cast, was commissioned on February 25th, and would eventually be known as Mission To The Unknown.
In late May, the BBC's Managing Director, Huw Wheldon, suggested that the Daleks' appearances in Doctor Who should be maximised. (Reputedly, this came at the advice of his mother-in-law, whom Wheldon viewed as representative of the average viewer.) To this end, Head of Drama Sydney Newman contacted Lambert, through new Head of Serials Gerald Savory, to recommend that Nation's new Dalek story be expanded into a twelve-part epic. Lambert replied on May 28th, noting that this would be possible if outgoing Doctor Who story editor Dennis Spooner could be commissioned to write the final six episodes, based on an outline by Nation. With agreement on this point reached, Spooner and Nation were formally commissioned on July 5th and 16th, respectively.
Nation's original, untitled outline differed from the finished product in numerous respects. The setting was the year AD 1,000,000 and the Daleks had set up shop on the planet Varga. The “007 of space” met by the Doctor was called Brett Walton, the President of the Solar System was Banhoong, and Brett's traitorous friend on Earth was simply named Tom. It was the arrival of the Daleks on the “Devils Planet” (later christened Desperus) which distracted the convicts enough to allow the Doctor and his friends to escape, and there was no mention of any criminals stealing on board the spaceship. Tom elected not to betray the Doctor's party and was murdered by the Daleks for helping them to escape to “the Planet of Mists” (later called Mira). The return of the Doctor and company to Varga happened at the start of episode ten. Several elements of Nation's outline drew upon ideas considered for The Chase, the previous Daleks serial.
One significant factor in the scripting process was the fact that part seven would air on Christmas Day. Because many viewers would be unable (or unwilling) to tune in on that day, it was decided that the installment should be a comedic interlude having little to do with the main plot. Recalling that Z Cars writer Keith Dewhurst had turned down his offer to write for Doctor Who, incoming story editor Donald Tosh suggested that part of the storyline could be a spoof of the popular BBC crime drama. Nation and Spooner agreed to swap assignments on parts six and seven, enabling Nation to tackle the Christmas episode.
As the summer progressed, Lambert handed over the reins of Doctor Who to new producer John Wiles. Wiles, like Tosh, was unhappy to have inherited the sprawling Dalek story, feeling it an imposition from the BBC brass that was out of line with his vision for the show. However, Wiles was able to secure an extra £3000 for the serial after complaining that the epic would be very costly to make. Wiles and Tosh hoped that the new story would serve as a final melee between the Doctor and the Daleks, and that the monsters could then be retired permanently. On July 23rd, William Hartnell's contract was revised to reflect the expansion of Serial V from six to twelve episodes.
Nation had begun writing his scripts for the companion team of Vicki and Steven Taylor. Late in the summer, however, he was informed by Wiles and Tosh that Vicki was being written out of Doctor Who in the preceding serial, The Myth Makers. Wiles and Tosh had devised a new companion, Trojan handmaiden Katarina, who would join the Doctor and Steven at the end of that adventure, but they now felt that Katarina was unsuitable as an ongoing character. Nation was asked to kill off Katarina in the fourth episode of the Dalek story, and to thereafter introduce a new protagonist who could fill the role of the girl companion at least for the remainder of the serial.
To this end, Nation developed Sara Kingdom, whom he envisaged as being a modern, aggressive woman in the vein of Cathy Gale, the character played by Honor Blackman in The Avengers. Sara was originally conceived as Brett Walton's lover, but this was later amended to make them siblings. Wiles and Tosh apparently gave some thought to making Sara a permanent companion, but they soon reconsidered and elected to have Sara die at the story's climax.
Various other changes were made as Nation scripted his episodes. Banhoong became Mavick (later, Mavic) Chen. The inhabitants of the Planet of Mists were first called Visilens; their final name of “Visians” was sometimes spelt “Visions”. The Technics were originally called Technocrats. Varga was renamed Kemble and then Kembel, although the name “Varga” would be retained for the Daleks' murderous plant life. The setting was also switched, to AD 4000.
As the summer wore on, Nation became more and more preoccupied with The Baron, a new adventure series for which he was acting as script supervisor (with Spooner as his assistant). This meant that Tosh had to carry out considerable rewriting on Nation's lean scripts for the Dalek story. Much of the added material would focus on Mavic Chen. Of particular concern for Tosh was the vastly underwritten Christmas episode, which clocked in at less than half the length of a typical Doctor Who script. Tosh made various additions and modifications to this installment. One key change came at the end, which in Nation's version saw the Doctor invent the cream-pie-in-the-face routine made famous in silent movies.
Spooner, meanwhile, decided to flesh out the Egyptian segment of the adventure by reintroducing the Monk, whom he had created for the previous season's The Time Meddler. The Monk would appear in parts eight through ten, Spooner having decided to delay the Doctor's return to Kembel until the eleventh installment. Spooner sought inspiration in history for the names of his Egyptian characters. These included Khepren (for Chephren or Khafre, builder of the second of the Great Pyramids of Giza), Hyksos (a Semitic-Asiatic tribe which invaded Egypt around the seventeenth century BC; the character was originally called Cerinus) and Tuthmos (for Tuthmosis or Thutmose, a name shared by four Egyptian kings).
Several titles were ascribed to the epic. After briefly going by the prosaic “The Daleks (Part IV)” and then “Battle Of Wits”, it finally became The Daleks' Master Plan, although different documentation would offer up a litany of minor variations. The director handed the reigns of the mammoth serial was Douglas Camfield, who had most recently helmed The Time Meddler.
Camfield and Wiles gave great thought to the adventure's futuristic setting, and the effect that the advanced date might have on names of people and places. With this in mind, Wiles wrote to Nation seeking his agreement to modify many of the names in the scripts; Nation consented, asking only that Mavic Chen and Sara Kingdom remain unaltered. The serial therefore saw the change of Brett Walton to Bret Vyon; Reinmal to Roald; Gilson (originally male) to Lizan; Kirkland to Kirksen; Carlton to Karlton; Barker to Borkar; Tom to Dexter and then Daxtar; Frayn to Froyn; and Bosworth to Rhynmal. Similarly, New Washington was changed to Communications Centre Earth. There was also concern that William Hartnell would have difficulty pronouncing “vitaranium”, the name Nation had coined for the crucial ingredient of the time destructor stolen by the Doctor. After “VX2” and “vita” were rejected (the latter because Wiles feared it sounded too much like “vitamin”), it was decided to simply drop the first syllable and use the term “taranium”.
In early September, the role of Bret Vyon went to Nicholas Courtney. Courtney had auditioned to play King Richard in The Crusade, also helmed by Camfield, and the director had not forgotten him. A few years later, Courtney would join Doctor Who on a semi-regular basis as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart. Around September 14th, Camfield cast Jean Marsh -- who had played Richard's sister Joanna in the same serial -- as Sara Kingdom. Marsh had originally worked as a model and dancer before moving to the United States where she worked with Sir John Gielgud on Broadway and appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone. Returning to the UK, Marsh had appeared in such series as Danger Man and The Saint. For five years in the late Fifties, the actress had been married to Jon Pertwee, who would later be cast as the Third Doctor. Marsh was introduced to the press at a photocall on December 4th.
Filming for The Daleks' Master Plan got started at the Ealing Television Film Studios on September 27th. Amongst the sequences captured on this day was Katarina's death scene -- ironically, Adrienne Hill's first performance for Doctor Who. Filming continued for the rest of the week until October 1st (encompassing Marsh's first work as Sara) and resumed the following week, from the 4th to the 8th. There were a variety of delays throughout this period, often due to problems with the props and models constructed by freelance firm Shawcraft. Shawcraft informed Wiles that they could no longer handle all the work coming out of the Doctor Who office, and would not be adverse to Wiles seeking out other companies to share some of the burden.
Amongst the model shots not completed during the two weeks at Ealing were those of the volcano on Tigus. As originally constructed by Shawcraft, this was out of scale with the miniature TARDIS. Further attempts at the shots were made on October 18th and 21st, but on both occasions problems with the slow-motion film stymied Camfield's team. They were finally captured successfully on November 15th.
Recording began on October 22nd in Studio TC3 at the BBC's Television Centre. As usual, each episode was recorded on consecutive Fridays, with the exception of Christmas Eve (although an extra day of filming at Ealing was eventually scheduled for December 27th). TC3 was the venue for every episode except Counter Plot and Coronas Of The Sun on November 19th and 26th, which shifted to TC4. On October 25th, still photos of a model TARDIS were taken in Hammersmith Park, London, for the sequence at the cricket test match in Volcano.
Adrienne Hill's final recording day was November 12th, when The Traitors was taped; this also marked Marsh's debut. Hill's emphasis after leaving Doctor Who was on her family, although she maintained a role in the BBC Radio soap opera Waggoner's Walk. In the Eighties, Hill became a drama teacher. She died of cancer on October 3rd, 1997.
Meanwhile, the pressures were mounting on the production team. On November 19th, the same day that Counter Plot was recorded, Barry Learoyd, Chief Designer for Drama, admonished Wiles for what he saw as insufficient time being permitted for consultation between the director and the designer. Learoyd suggested that no director should be permitted to handle more than six episodes at a time as a means of avoiding this problem in the future.
The already fragile relationship between Hartnell and Wiles was also degenerating further, not helped by the deteriorating state of the star's health. Wiles was becoming increasingly exasperated by Hartnell's tendency to deviate from his scripted lines, and had to deal with a brief crew strike arising from a dispute between Hartnell and his dresser. Things got so bad that on December 16th, the Manchester Evening News reported that Hartnell would be quitting Doctor Who, although this did not transpire.
The Feast Of Steven was recorded on December 3rd. Camfield had approached Z Cars producer David Rose for permission to use the programme's police station set and hire series stars Colin Welland (PC David Graham), Joseph Brady (PC “Jock” Weir), James Ellis (PC Bert Lynch) and Brian Blessed (PC “Fancy” Smith) to make an appearance in the episode. Rose refused, however, feeling that the comedic tone of Feast made for an inappropriate crossover with his serious drama; the castmembers in question would also be busy with the new season of Z Cars during the period Camfield would require them. As a result, Camfield decided to simply hire new actors to play the roles. He also cast his wife, Sheila Dunn, to play silent film heroine Blossom Lefavre.
An unusual aspect of The Feast Of Steven was the Doctor's fourth-wall-breaking Christmas greeting to the TV viewers, which immediately preceded the closing credits. Wiles and Tosh, who greatly disliked the gesture, would later claim that this was an unplanned ad-lib by Hartnell, although the fact that the line appears in Camfield's camera script suggests otherwise.
The next night, Counter Plot was transmitted on BBC1. Some days later, Camfield found himself being contacted by the production office for the feature film 2001: A Space Odyssey, who were enquiring as to the processes Camfield had used to achieve both the bodies floating in space and the “molecular dissemination” effect.
As 1965 came to a close, a sea change was signalled for Doctor Who: during December, Wiles and Tosh submitted their resignations. Wiles, never entirely comfortable as a producer, felt burned out by the gruelling schedule imposed on him by The Daleks' Master Plan, and was weary of his ongoing battles with Hartnell. Indeed, Wiles had suggested finding a new actor to play the Doctor, but did not gain approval from Gerald Savory. Tosh felt that he should stay loyal to Wiles, and was also eager to try his hand at other material.
Due to the holidays, there was no recording on Christmas Eve. On December 27th, however, Camfield's team return to the Ealing Television Film Studios to capture the special effects sequences involving the Time Destructor. Meanwhile, for unknown reasons, the Doctor was removed from a large portion of the final two episodes of Serial V. Instead, Steven assumed the Doctor's lines while his own were split between himself and Sara. The Doctor now disappeared shortly after the TARDIS materialised on Kembel in The Abandoned Planet, and reappeared suddenly in the underground Dalek base near the start of Destruction Of Time.
The latter episode was recorded on January 14th, 1966, finally bringing the torturous production schedule to an end. This also marked the conclusion of Marsh's short tenure as a Doctor Who companion. She went on to great fame as the cocreator and star of LWT's Upstairs, Downstairs and appeared in the short-lived American sitcom 9 To 5 (based on the movie of the same name). Marsh has maintained a prolific stage schedule and has appeared in feature films such as Return To Oz and Willow. In 1989, she returned to Doctor Who to play Morgaine in Battlefield. The character of Sara Kingdom, meanwhile, would be revived by Nation for The Destroyers, the pilot script for his unrealised Dalek TV series. The Destroyers would have also introduced another brother of hers, David Kingdom.
No less than three of the twelve episodes comprising The Daleks' Master Plan underran their allotted timeslot. Wiles claimed that The Nightmare Begins was short because of difficulty in accurately timing special effects shots, and that Destruction Of Time had to be cut down when the latter portion of Sara's death scene was deemed unsuitable. Wiles' explanation for the abbreviated length of Escape Switch was that “a cast member” (presumably Hartnell) had omitted some of his dialogue; however, this claim is not borne out by the camera scripts.
Around mid-January, the replacements for Wiles and Tosh were identified. The new producer of Doctor Who would be Innes Lloyd. Lloyd had been an actor in repertory theatre when he became a studio manager for BBC Radio. He then worked in various capacities for BBC Television before becoming a director on programmes like United! and The Newcomers. It was with some reluctance that Lloyd, who was not a fan of science fiction and -- like Wiles -- preferred the director's chair, agreed to produce Doctor Who.
Lloyd would be joined by story editor Gerry Davis. After getting his start as a newspaper reporter, Davis went on to work in both radio and television with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; he had also written for the Canadian Film Board. He was hired by the BBC after former Head of Serials Donald Wilson was impressed by a TV scriptwriting course Davis had conceived. Davis was story editing United! when he asked to be moved to a London-based series; this turned out to be Doctor Who.
|Updated 21st June 2017|
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